WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers and Norfolk Admirals skated into Saturday night's third period deadlocked at three, looking for something to put the game into their favor. Wheeling's power play stepped up to the occasion. Luke Santerno and Tyler Drevitch both netted their second goals of the contest with the man advantage, as the Nailers opened up a two-goal lead. Drevitch then finished his first career hat trick, as the Nailers were victorious, 6-3 in front of 3,177 fans on First Responders Night at WesBanco Arena. Santerno's night was also a special one, as his two goals were the first of his professional career.
Both teams turned on the red light in the first period, and the goals came 73 seconds apart from each other. Wheeling was first on the board at the 12:40 mark. T.J. Fergus poked the puck ahead to Gianluca Esteves, who was joined by Cédric Desruisseaux for a 2-on-1 rush. Esteves made a perfect dish to Desruisseaux on his left, where he snapped a one-timer into the top-right corner of the cage. The response by the Admirals also came off of a slick pass, as Danny Katic placed the puck on the left side of the low slot, where Ryan Foss ramped a redirection up and under the crossbar. The stanza ended with a scuffle, which resulted in a pair of ejections.
Period two saw the offense double, as the two squads each found the twine on a pair of occasions. The Nailers grabbed their second lead of the night at the 6:02, mark, when Tyler Drevitch pounced on the puck in the right circle, and whizzed a wrist shot into the left side of the goal. Norfolk responded with an equalizer 2:19 later, when Foss lifted in his second of the night from the right side of the crease moments after a power play expired. The Admirals then went ahead for the first time, when Denis Smirnov placed a right-circle one-timer into the left side of the net. Wheeling bounced right back to even things up. Peter Laviolette set the tone with some large hits on the forecheck, and Luke Santerno took advantage, as he flipped in his first professional goal from the right side of the slot.
The Nailers had experienced some struggles with their power play over the past few weeks, but the third period turned those tides around in a big way. Sean Josling fired a one-timer from the left circle that bounced off of Santerno and went in at the 7:36 mark to put the Nailers on top, 4-3. Wheeling used another man advantage to add insurance with 3:51 remaining, as Drevitch picked the top-right corner of the cage with his right circle wrister. Norfolk was quick to pull its netminder, and the Nailers cashed in with the empty netter, as Drevitch completed his hat trick as well as the 6-3 triumph.
Brad Barone was great in goal for Wheeling, as he blocked away 33 of the 36 shots he faced. Cale Morris took the loss for the Admirals, as he gave up five goals on 20 shots.
The Nailers and Admirals will wrap up their three-game weekend series at WesBanco Arena on Sunday at 4:10. Following the game, fans will have the opportunity to skate with the odd-numbered players. The next Big 6 Promotional Night is part of the next set of home games - Country Night on Saturday, March 11th, featuring a live post game concert by Jonathan Moody. Ticket packages and single game tickets are available for the 2022-23 season by visiting wheelingnailers.com or calling (304) 234-GOAL. The Wheeling Nailers, considered one of the top things to do in Wheeling, West Virginia, provide affordable family entertainment for fans throughout the Ohio Valley.